Bacon No. 8 (Retrofill Comes Later)
Bacon no. 8 is "North Country Cob Smoked Bacon," and it's a welcome throwback to my first and favorite shipment, Father's, in that it is a thick, smoky, down and dirty slice of meat. To touch it raw with your fingertip and then bring the digit slowly to your nose is to be wrestling in a dusty logging camp alongside a buried row of ember-lidded Dutch ovens. Grizzled lumberjacks clap and holler, and great gallon growlers of forest-temperature steam beer are hoisted and drained in a minute by groups of three, as you and your opponent plant your worn jack boots against each new body blow. North Country is every bit as American as Tom Sawyer lighting a corncob pipe off a tightly rolled Indian treaty, with a flavor depth you'll never find in the supermarket. To discover these smoky climes, unfortunately, requires aggressive consumer action. Again, please refer to the Grateful Palate if in search of exceptional bacon.
We'll talk more about what I've done with North Country in a later post. It's time to come clean with my most consistent bacon epiphany, if I can even call it that any more:
Bacon is at its best by itself, eaten like a long potato chip, while standing over whatever you used to drain it. It doesn't seem to take or want help from other ingredients.
Think about it: the product hits on almost all cylinders when simply rendered and left to rest a minute or less. Sweet, salty, smoky, rich, fatty, chewy, warm, multi-textural...a symphony to everything that our palates know to be right. What's going to do anything other than dilute that perfect experience? Is there any other foodstuff so well rounded? Put some seared foie gras on brioche next to a slice of properly smoked and seasoned bacon, and the liver will lose every time. We like chew, we like depth. We don't just want to eat meat butter. Anyone with an honest palate knows that we eat foie gras in front of people, but we want bacon when we are alone.
I've seen my dog growl and get nasty when we try to tickle her after we set down her bowl of manure pellets (or whatever it is we feed her) — but try pulling a piece of bacon out of my hand as I lift it to my mouth. I'd give my own mother a sharp elbow in the solar plexus, and I love her as much as any good son. This raises unpleasant questions about primacy and my character in general, but those among you who didn't feel a pang of sympathy just now, rise up and shuffle off. Bacon is as close as food gets to a narcotic, and, like marijuana, it's the sort of thing you really won't appreciate until you order special versions through the mail.